Zion 2010: Day 8 (Narrows V)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

It was great hiking to subway yesterday. This broke up the monotony of being in the Narrows for nearly a full week. I have two final images on my narrows shot list. Both will require clear skies — and that is the challenge.

Yesterday’s overcast conditions were part of a storm system heading toward Zion. Today’s weather forecast calls for cloudy skies, and tomorrow will bring rain. Including today, I only have 3 full days left on this trip.  Since tomorrow is out of the question for reflected light shots, my two remaining photos must be taken today or Tuesday.

For today’s shot, my goal is to be — lucky.

I started the hike under overcast skies. On my way to the shooting location, I kept my eyes on the river at my feet.  Maybe if I didn’t look up, the clouds would go away.

Strangely enough, that is exactly what happened when I reached my shooting location.  Blue sky.

There were several hours until my shooting window — my fingers remained crossed.

Originally, my goal was to take this photo with my normal lens. This would place a lot of emphasis on the background glow.  I had my mind set on a horizontal composition to place more ephasis on the trees and the flowing river.  In particular, the trees on the right had very whimsical trunks.

When I looked at the ground glass using my normal lens, I was not able to find a composition. The glow was nice, but the trees on the right could not be worked into the composition. To include all of these elements, I switched to my wide angle 150mm Nikkor. The composition now had a nice flow to it, but the glow in the background was greatly minimized.

As I studied the composition on the ground glass, I noticed a very turbulent part of the river.  A large, round, submerged rock was the culprit.  To fix this, I moved several rocks to the downstream side of the boulder. Rather than the water crashing over the top of the rock and creating turbulence, water now sheeted over the top of it and the white spot was greatly minimized.

Some people seem to have a problem with moving rocks or other subjects within the scene. In certain situations, I think it is just fine. This canyon sees several flash floods each year. These flash floods will move large rocks, logs, and often times change the course of the river. Throwing a dozen rocks on the down stream side of this larger rock will have no long term effect on the canyon.

I could certainly understand concern if a photographer was removing delicate plant life for a photo, or other things along those lines — but moving a few rocks in a flash flood zone is not a big deal.

Desert Paradise | Ebony RW810 | Nikkor 150mm | Velvia 100 8x10

The blue skies stuck around through my shooting window, and I took two exposures on Velvia 100.

I chose to use this film because of the excellent reciprocity failure characteristics, and the faster possible shutter speed. The color goes a bit funky within these canyons, but it’s easy to fix with the curves mid-tone sampler.

Just after I shot this photo, the breeze picked up, and high clouds moved in. By the end of my hike, the skies were completely overcast and the light was gone. When I returned to camp, the weather app on my iPhone showed a large area of clear skies that swept through Zion during my shooting window.  I was very lucky!

I believe this location holds a lot of potential — but this is not a photo I will be printing.  It serves as a good compositional study for this location, and gives me something to work for when I return next year.

First of all, there is some tree movement. Although difficult to see in this web presentation, the trees on the right are not as sharp as I would like. Secondly, my wide angle lens greatly minimizes the glow in this scene. It is so small that I might as well not include it. In the video, pay close attention to the lighting of the scene when I’m under the dark cloth.  When I return next year, that is the light that I hope to capture.

I know where to be and when for that shot — I just need to have calm conditions so the leaves are stationary.

2 Responses to “Zion 2010: Day 8 (Narrows V)”

  1. Tweets that mention Zion 2010: Day 8 (Narrows V) « Ben Horne Photography -- Topsy.com Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by David Patterson, Bright Futures Maine. Bright Futures Maine said: Ben Horne in Zion 2010: Day 8 (Narrows V): http://t.co/JldctGu […]

  2. bob francella Says:

    Ben absolutely fantastic, I love the videos. Great shooting

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